March 27, 2007

Bad American Girl Place

I didn't know what American Girl Place is before the kid was born, and she has no idea what it is now. It's a freaky, doll-centered, corporate-driven cult, a Club Libby Lu for Stepford Children, whose parents' only claim to superiority--their recognition of the white trash origins of the Libby Lu aesthetic--is undermined by their ready willingness to sell their kids' imaginations out to the Mattel Matrix.

If the ascension of dads as co-equal parents has any effect on the culture at all, I hope it'll be the extinction of these moneygrubbing temples of stereotypsloitation.

As if the company wasn't evil enough already, last week, American Girl made a little six-year-old girl cry when a doll stylist in the NYC store refused to give Etta's $20 Target-bought AG replica doll a $20 makeover. "That's not a real doll!" Etta's mom quotes the stylist as saying. Other moms in line explained helpfully that they guessed Etta just couldn't afford a real AG doll. Real classy, ladies.

courtney_american_girl.jpg

If AG's policy is different from what's stated in the Frommer's Guide Etta's family used, it's probably because there have been problems with Target interlopers before. Like that no-good Courtney, whose slutty makeup, armband tattoos, and Sapphic ways exerted a real bad influence on the American Girls in Chicago that one time in '04.

Fake, Out!
[oneofthosehorriblemoms via consumerist]
American Girls Gone Wild [gapersblock via coudal]

12 Comments

I've been following this story and all the enraged comments. But I've had a nagging feeling that this might story might be a little bit Urban Legendy--I can imagine the stylist part--but the other moms? I'm not totally buying it. Is there any possiblity that this is one mom's takedown of American Girl? I mean, if I were writing a story about this, I would try and verify some of the info. Or get a comment from American Girl...Now I'm not saying you should, but I do think that if it's not entirely true, it really sucks. and if it is well, then AG really sucks, but I personally am witholding judgment. (And I have no personal ties to AG because I have boys) But I loved, loved, loved, AGS gone wild!!!!

[I don't particularly care what Mattel's PR has to say about it, frankly. I don't like the place any less than I did before. But since it is a first-person account, if it's not 100% true, it's less likely to be urban legend than over-exaggerated. But hey, it's a mom's blog. If she were really a good parent, she'd never have let her kid near there in the first place. d'oh! -ed.]

I think the name of the Mom's blog should be a clue.
The world seems to revolve around her.

I always liked American Girl. I played with them as a child myself and I have known many little girls who love them. It's a great way to teach kids about history and past cultures. I've never found the dolls to be sexist in any way. In fact, if you read the books that come with the dolls than you will see that they are actually empowering to women. The girls overcome problems in a society that in many cases, looks down on girls.

You have dolls and stories about a runaway slave, an orphan, a girl who's father fights in WW2, an immigrant who faces discrimination, and more. These girls learn to deal with their problems in good ways.

I have been to American Girl Stores in both New York and Chicago. I've never found anyone there to be rude, rather it be the moms or workers. And I totally understand their policy about only fixing their dolls' hair. If they let people bring in any doll, you'd have people showing up with barbies and all kinds of stuff.

I'd not expect Target to fix my product that came from another store. Why should any store do that?

The story is OK, but what is really hilarious is the comments people are leaving on the mom's blog.


[bwahaha, nice collection. that fake diamond one is a hilarious cry for help. And the comment on your comments is awesome, too: "This story is similar to the guy that goes into our local park with a helium cannister and only gives balloons to kids that he knows. My son was so upset." -ed.]

Do we get any credential points for having ordered from American Girl *before* they were bought out by Mattel, when it was a woman with a vision, a Puritan virtue name, and a small business? No? Oh well.

I have no beef with AG Place -- it's not my cup of tea, but I'm not a little girl and it could be much worse (Club Libby Lu, Bratz, Guess Kids, the whole Disney Industrial Complex, etc.).

I can also see why they would refuse to handle anything but their own product. They know how AG doll hair is rooted, what it's made out of, how much stress it can take, etc. (trust me, having watched what they have to do to get my niece's Kirsten looking good again, it is not a gentle process). I imagine they don't want to be liable for damage to other dolls.

While it is sexist and possibly untrue (one can never predict what toys one's kid will love, gender be damned), the first thing my husband said when we found out we were having a boy was, "Oh. Thank God. I don't have to go to American Girl Place."

This blog makes it sound like the kid is impoverished and wears thrift-shop clothes and can't afford a real AG doll. If you read the whole blog, she says that the kid is the one who chose to buy a Target doll instead of a real AG doll. And if you read the mother's other blog entries, she talks about her cleaning lady and the VCR in her minivan. So this isn't some poor little match girl going into AG and being tortured because of her knockoff doll.

What's interesting is that she tells us exactly what the stylist and the other moms said and did, but she doesn't tell us what SHE (or the person accompanying the kid) said and did. I'm sure there's a lot of exaggeration going on here. And I don't blame AG for not styling other doll brands in our litigious society!

What is funny about this whole American Girl doll business is that it is really (and say this to yourself sarcastically) "American Girl-made in CHINA". How American is that really????? And yes, my daughters have them...purchased by the IN-LAWs of course....I rather donate my money to charity than waste it on "American Girl-made in CHINA"!!!

As a mom whose roommate in college worked at american girl place in Chicago...I can say that part of this is definately true. It is against american girl policy to provide service on dolls other than their own. If the 'stylist' pulls a large chunk of hair of an AGP doll they can replace the head (or the doll) but what happens if the stylist ruins a girls knockoff doll? they cant replace it, it isnt theirs. American Girl doll hair is real wig hair, not synthetic hair and these stylist are only trained on their product. As commercialist and insane as american girl place is, this is the last thing that would ignite my rage!!!

Okay, I think that the statement is a little bit outrageous and over-reactive. Personally, Etta shouldn't have gotten an AG doll, maybe a Bitty Baby, and what do you expect when you go to the AMERICAN GIRL DOLL hair saloon. The mother thing is also far-fetched. And the description on how the people that buy the dolls are is a hurtful steryotype. Many working class people buy AG dolls and aren't stuck up, nor rich. This incident is blown out of proportion, yes I feel sorry for Etta but it sounds more like a publicity stunt to destroy AG, or why else would you post a story about how your 6 year old was hurt? In a year she probably won't even remember the incident.

I stumbled across this just now, and first of all, I'd say an apology is in order. In training, we are told never to inform the child of the difference between her doll and an American Girl doll, if it is from an outside company. That comment should never have occurred.

We take in Target dolls all the time, but because of company-wide policy, management prohibits styles over ten dollars on outside brands. We don't refuse to style their hair, we simply aren't allowed to do the more complex styles on them. (I'm assuming she wanted a ponytail veil or something to that effect?) In part, that's because their wig cap is completely different from our dolls, and quite frankly, the styles come out looking trashy, because SO MUCH of their scalp shows. It's hard for us as stylists to put in more work to get an unprofessional result. :(

As for the part about the other moms, that's actually a pretty common reaction. I had a Target doll in my chair the other day and the second one of the other moms saw her she asked, right in front of the little girl, if it was an American Girl doll. It's hard to be in that position. We understand that sometimes a girl just isn't ready for an American Girl, and sometimes a family is more practical than to spend 100 dollars on a doll, and sometimes the little girl thinks AG dolls are less attractive- other people, sadly, see the Target dolls as a mark of inferiority. I feel, however, that a distinction should be made between the company's attempts at understanding (at least we do the outside doll's hair, they certainly don't have to), and the attitude of the snooty parent who has purchased their 3-year-old a Kaya doll, which is in the hair salon because she's become a massive dredlock from lack of proper care. :/

I hope this was in any way reassuring that we are not, in fact, all evil heartless money-grabbing soul-eaters. And I'm sorry that was such an awful experience for you.

Take Care,
Liz

You are duped Liz.
replying to something that supposedly happened almost two years ago... only it never happened.

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